Friday, 22 January 2010

January Task



The January task for my 'Springfield Sanctuary Herbal Apprenticeship' has been set....

Task
  1. Map all the hawthorn and elder trees within a mile of where you live. This means going out and locating them and drawing a map showing where they all are. Notice where they are growing in relation to roads etc and see which ones would be suitable for you to harvest from them. Try to do a bark rubbing from several trees of each genre and see how similar/diverse they are. Label and date the bark rubbings. Take photos and notice the shape of the trees.
  2. Make an elder bark oil/salve. This means you need to collect some elder twigs. Choose a tree in a unpolluted spot. Cut some twigs and when you get them home, strip off the bark. Divide the bark shavings into two piles and make a double infused oil.
Research
  1. Elder bark is good for bruises. Try to find the answers to the following questions.
    1. What other herbs could you use for bruises?
    2. What might you apply to a bruise using these other herbs that you would not (preferably) use with elder and why?
  2. What is the body doing when a bruise is formed? Look at the structure of the skin and the underlying blood supply and map the formation and healing process of a bruise.
Due to the weather and various other (unavoidable) commitments, I am already a little behind with this task, but... things are in progress and I shall be putting up my task results shortly!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Herbal Bitters

I’ve been interested in herbs and herbalism for many years, but beyond buying the odd book, I’d not really taken it any further. That was until about 18 months ago, when a herbal workshop day was advertised on a mailing list I subscribe to. So with very little to loose, and potentially loads to gain, I ventured down to ‘Springfields Sanctuary’ near Stow-on-the-Wold one balmy Saturday in June and met Sarah Head.

From Springfields Sanctuary

Since then, I’ve attended quite a few of Sarah’s workshops, both at Springfields Sanctuary and at her home near Solihull. I’ve learnt a lot about making tinctures and balms and vinegars, but regrettably I’ve not given myself the time to use them or really think about the context of what I’ve learnt.

This year, I’m taking part in Sarah’s Herbal Apprenticeship, which will force me to use more joined-up thinking and thoroughly explore my chosen herbs in more detail.

So when I was asked to write something about herbal bitters for a ‘Blog Party’, my first reaction was to politely refuse because I lacked experience with them. Then I thought about it a bit more and wondered if I should use the opportunity to learn more about them and record what I found in this blog entry, so here goes…

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